How many times have you heard the old saying “It just takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch?” Probably more than you can even count. There’s a reason that old sayings like this survive- because they are true. Unfortunately there are those among us who, for some unknown reason, can’t understand the point behind the saying and become that one bad apple that ruins everything for everybody. Once and a while I see things out on the trail that put me in a mood to go on a blog tirade, but I usually restrain myself. This year I have decided to get my usual in season frustrations with certain riders out of the way before the season starts so I can be done with it. I’m not talking about each individual rider here, let’s face it even the safest and smartest among us have made mistakes out on the trail and had a few close calls, but because we are responsible riders they were just that, close calls. What I am talking about here are those few bad eggs that are chronic abusers of the trail, lack any sort of trail etiquette and are just overall idiots that ruin the sport for everyone and get trails closed. We’ve seen them, we’ve heard about them, and some of you might even know one of them, so without further ado here are my biggest on trail pet peeves.
THE GUY THAT RIDES ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRAIL: Believe it or not there are people out there that do not understand the ride right rule of the trail. How these idiots ever wound up on a snowmobile is beyond me but every year you read about them: some moron riding on the wrong side of the trail who hits and severely injures or kills someone. I can’t believe how often this happens because it is 100% avoidable. How do you go from staying on your side of the road every day when you drive a car to being so stupid that you can’t figure out that the same rule applies on the trail? People that cannot follow this simple rule and stay on the right side of the trail have no business ever being on a snowmobile.
THE GUY WHO CAN’T FOLLOW SIMPLE TRAIL SIGNS: This is the one thing that winds up getting trails closed all over the United States every year. The vast majority of snowmobile trails run through private property and in order to keep these trails open there are agreements made with land owners that are designed to keep snowmobile activity to designated areas, this results in a number of “Stay On Trail,” “Do Not Enter,” “No Snowmobiles Allowed,” and “No Trespassing” signs being posted along with residential area speed limit signs. I was out doing trail work one day in the middle of the season and watched someone completely ignore the clearly marked trail diamonds, multiple “Stay On Trail” signs, a “Do Not Enter” sign, a “No Trespassing” sign, and a “No Snowmobiles Allowed” sign and ride right onto private property and ride through the land owners yard just so he could cut off about 300 yards of rough trail. Needless to say the landowner came out of his house and threw a fit and I had to apologize for the moron who apparently cannot read plain English, needless to say if I had to renew that landowner’s trail easement that day he would have said no. It didn’t matter to him that thousands of riders obeyed the signs all year, all he cared about was the one jerk who rode through his yard.
THE GUY WHO THINKS THE TRAIL IS A SNOCROSS TRACK: We’ve all seen these riders, the ones who push the envelope of speed on the trail. Never mind that there are speed limits, these guys don’t care and speed like crazy. I’m not talking about opening up the throttle on a lake or long straight away, I’m talking about those that are ripping through the curves and riding way too fast for the trail. I’ve been riding at a pretty good pace when suddenly some guys blow by me like I’m standing still, then a half mile down the trail I see one of these same guys with his sled wrapped around a tree and a bone sticking through a hole in his bibs. Suddenly a casual ride becomes a guided tour for the sheriff’s rescue squad to show them where the idiot with a destroyed sled and broken bones is. NOT FUN.
THE GUY WHO HAS HAD ONE TOO MANY DRINKS AND DECIDES TO RIDE: This is another no brainer. “Hmm, I’m going to drink, become intoxicated and then get on a high horsepower vehicle and travel down an icy trail that is bordered by trees on both sides”- smart move. I have never understood this logic, and no matter how long the list of dead snowmobilers from driving while intoxicated gets it is never enough to keep people from doing it, and it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to them and adds a new name to the list.
THE OVERALL JERK: There are some things that people do on the trail that just ruin it for everyone by the stupid way they act or ride. One of my biggest pet peeves are people that cross a road and feel it necessary to hammer the throttle when they get on the other side and pile up a huge mound of snow- well guess what, that is the first step of starting a long chain of moguls (For more on this see my upcoming article on the science behind moguls). Then there are those that feel it is okay to eat a candy bar or have a bottled water and just throw their trash on the side of the trail, seriously WHY? You brought it out there, bring it back. This is the #2 reason trails get closed- because the snow melts and land owners find trash on their property- once again it is because of a handful of people that trails get closed.
Well, that’s it, rant over. Hopefully if you are one of these people or know one of them you can convince them that their actions ruin riding for everybody and maybe help save our trails and save lives. Nearly all snowmobile accidents can be prevented and we all want to be out there and have fun and come home safely. If we all followed the rules of the trail we can all make it home and we can keep the trails open for years to come.